LOUISBOURG — Albert Leahy can finally say he has caught the rarest of the rare after 30 years of lobster fishing aboard his boat the John Ray.
For the first time in his career he caught a lobster of colour — a crystal lobster, also called albino or white — and only one in every 100 million are that colour.
While he has heard of other fishermen catching other coloured lobsters off the coast of Louisbourg, Leahy said he hasn’t heard of anyone catching an albino one.
“I was teasing Robert Levy, he caught three blue ones, I said, anyone can catch a blue one,” the 60-year-old said during a phone interview with the Cape Breton Post.
“I was just saying this year I probably won’t see (a lobster of colour) before I retire.”
The catch is a highlight of his career, along with the time him and his fishing mate, Denis Organ, saved a sea turtle who was tangled in the lines of a trap. But it was the sight of the albino lobster that really struck Leahy.
“There were little touches of blue on this lobster… you could almost see through it.”
Although white lobsters are very rare, this isn’t the first one caught off Cape Breton shore since the season opened on May 9. Logan Truckair and the crew aboard his father’s boat, Temporary Home, pulled one in on May 20 while fishing in Glace Bay.
It was the first time the a fourth-generation lobster fisherman had heard of one being pulled out of the waters in that area but said his father, Robert Truckair, had seen some while working in Yarmouth earlier in his 35-year career.
“It’s really cool actually. It looks amazing. I thought it was fake when it came out of the water,” the 22-year-old said.
“It was almost like it would glow in the dark.”
Leahy decided to take a picture of the crystal creature and release it back into the ocean partly because it wasn’t big enough and partly because of how rare it is.
“I wouldn’t keep it. It’s too rare. What do you do? Eat It? I wouldn’t want to see it eaten.”
“I told him, when we put him back in the water in a safe spot, he better only go into our traps because we’ll keep him alive,” he said, laughing.
Truckair said on their boat they intended on pulling the white beauty out to give to a local seafood place. But the lobster was caught at the start of the day and the crew forgot to pull it out, so the albino lobster was shipped off with the others.
“Apparently they turn neon white when they are cooked. I hope someone enjoys him.”
Lobsters are a delicacy to many and when one of the crustaceans is found in not the normal brownish green colour, it is exciting for both fishermen and people who enjoy eating them.
Here is a list of the rare colours that lobsters can come in, so you can impress guests at the next lobster boil you attend:
• Blue lobster: one in two million lobsters will be blue and the shade can vary, from a pale to vibrant, almost iridescent. It is believed a genetic defect causes the blue colour.
• Red lobster: one in 10 million are this colour, which looks like they just came out of the pot instead of the ocean. These lobsters will get redder in colour, especially when eating a diet high in food like shrimp, crab meat and crab shells.
• Calico lobster: one in 30 million are calico, which are reddish with black spots and blotches. Often these markings resemble something you might find on a cat, particularly a cheetah.
• Yellow or orange lobster: also one in 30 million, the yellow is usually more of an orange yellow than a lemon yellow, while the orange ones have hints or red. The colour is also thought to be caused by a genetic mutation.
• Orange and brown (or black) split: only one in 50 million have this colour combination, usually split down the middle, length-wise from head to tail.
• Albino/white/crystal lobster: the rarest of the rare, only one in 100 million lobsters are this unique colour. Lobsters this colour have translucent shells so what you see when you look at them is their flesh.